This is a guest blog by British Red Cross chief executive Sir Nicholas Young, who recently visited Damascus, Syria.
Today, Syria is a war zone. Even in Damascus, the skyline is punctuated by plumes of smoke from bombed buildings. The streets are quiet and the lights are out from early evening. The call to prayer is interrupted by the rolling boom of mortar and artillery attacks, and the shriek of war planes overhead.
Food is in short supply, and even bread is hard to find outside Damascus. The country can no longer produce its own medicines, as the pharmaceutical factories around Aleppo have been destroyed or damaged by fighting. Over a third of the country’s hospitals have closed down. Typhoid and hepatitis are spreading.